6 Ways to Be More Others-Focused in the Second Half

Becoming more altruistic or “others-focused” during the second half of life is not only a natural course of human behavior, but is remarkably healthy for our mind, body and spirit.

A 2005 study called “Altruism, Happiness and Health: It’s Good to be Good,” concludes “a strong correlation exists between the well-being, happiness, health, and longevity of people who are emotionally and behaviorally compassionate, so long as they are not overwhelmed by helping tasks.”

According to Mental Health America, “research indicates that those who consistently help other people experience less depression, greater calm, fewer pains and better health. They may even live longer.”

The organization points to recent research that shows: “students who performed five acts of kindness a day increased their happiness; providing emotional support to others significantly decreased the harmful health effects of certain kinds of stress among older people; and people who donated money to charity got a boost in a feel-good part of the brain, as revealed in brain imaging research.”

Being more others-focused also helps make folks feel “relatively lucky, connected to others, feel needed and effective, more generous” and see they have a “sense of purpose and meaning.”

The German financial service firm Allianz says meeting the needs of others also helps with pain and blood pressure. Being others-focused is good for us on all fronts of the human experience!

So how do we take the senior spotlight off ourselves and turn the focus onto others on our Golden Years approach? Here are five ways to be more in tune with the needs of those around us – and reap the health benefits attention on others brings!

Volunteer Your Time or Talent with an Organization That Means Something to You Personally

So many organizations and nonprofits in the world need volunteer assistance to be successful, and choosing which ones to support is a matter of personal preference and experience. Websites like Indeed.com, VolunteerMatch.org and even LinkedIn feature databases of opportunities specific to your market and interest.

Try keywords that are meaningful to you and see what pops up. Also, keep an eye on the local news to see which organizations are doing work that appeals to your sense of purpose.

Look in Your Closest Family and Friend Circles and See Where You Can Be a Resource, Help or Asset

The great thing about being more others-focused in the second half is you don’t have to look far to find needs to meet. With a little more awareness and conversation, you can find so many folks in your inner circles who need something only you can offer. Ask, listen and make a plan. Just do it!

Be Open to Forming New Relationships, and with Intentional Presence, Show an Interest, Ask Questions and See Where Your Unique Strengths Can Meet a Need

And just outside your friend and family circles are strangers and one-day acquaintances who are doing life in your community and could use some support or assistance. Look out for these opportunities and be diligent when getting to know people. You never know when that conversation with a new friend will yield a chance to be a blessing to someone else. Those moments are always lurking, keep an eye out for them!

Make Your Life Mantra to “Be Used” or “Be Mindful of the Needs of Others”

To get your heart and brain in line with an others-focused approach to life, get up each morning and recite one of these mantras. It will open your spirit to your purpose for the day.

Mentor People Younger Than You

Study after study shows how important it is for adults in their second half to share wisdom, experience and life lessons with young people. Intergenerational mentoring is a natural, most beautiful activity that serves both the older and younger adults.

A May 2020 article in Positive Maturity says:

“Anyone can be a mentor, but seniors are particularly suited to make unique contributions. They have plenty of wisdom and experience to share, but they are often undervalued and underutilized. Seniors are living longer, healthier than ever before and growing in number, making them the perfect candidates for filling mentorship roles within their own communities. Better yet, it works! The attention, guidance and support of seniors has been proven to help at-risk kids become more aware, self-confident and capable people. But the children aren’t the only beneficiaries. Older adults can derive fulfillment as well as a sense of value and purpose, often lacking in their lives. These relationships can also help with depression and loneliness and improve the overall quality of life for seniors. The National Senior Corps’ Foster Grandparent Program unites older Americans with at-risk kids in their local communities to act as mentors, tutors and caregivers. Currently, more than 30,000 foster grandparents serve as mentors for almost 300,000 kids.”

Donate to Missions or Organizations That Are Important to You and the People You Love

There is no shortage of organizations, groups and individuals who would benefit greatly from a financial donation. If you already are giving to groups that are meaningful to you, consider giving to “in lieu of flowers” organizations mentioned in loved ones’ obituaries or support causes related to grandchildren, friends and other family members. Even the smallest contribution tells people you see them, you know what’s important to them and you are there for them.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Study after study shows focusing on the needs of others improves our health and quality of life. How are you looking out for these opportunities during your second half experience? What advice do you have for others looking to be a resource and support?

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